Bali villas targeted by authorities for “catering” to the LGBTQ community

Some claimed it could “taint” the tourism image for the islands.

Authorities in Bali are investigating four villas on the island, after it was reported that they catered to the LGBTQ community. One such villa was advertised last week as the Angelo Bali Gay Guesthouse.

A.A. Oka Ambara Dewi, an officer with the Public Order Agency, told Detik: “If we are going to do it according to the SOP, we will check the permit documents and according to the designation or not, so later if it is proven [the villas are for LGBTQ people] that we will do a temporary sealing.”

Authorities ordered the owner of the Angelo Bali Gay Guesthouse to appear before them, but they failed to do so. Other owners of villas under investigation have appeared before authorities.

I Made Badra, the head of Badung’s cultural agency, a regency in Bali, said the existence of such villas would “taint” the tourism image that the island has.

When the news broke, Queer Eye’s interior design guru, Bobby Berk, was visiting the island. Tweeting his disappointment of the news, he wrote: “Well this is very disappointing to read on my last day visiting.

“Won’t be recommending or coming back if this is now how the government here is going to act.”

Bali is part of Indonesia, a country where LGBTQ rights are on the decline. Although homosexuality is legal in most parts of the the Asian country, it is illegal in other areas.

Last year, Indonesia was nearly successful in banning homosexuality, as it planned to criminalise sex outside of marriage, and same-sex marriage is not legal there. However, the voting on the bill was postponed following pressure from human rights groups and Australia.

Riska Carolina, the head of the legal division for LGBTQ group Arus Pelangi, said the group would fight to remove parts of the law that have “the potential for gross human rights violation, especially against the LGBT community.”

She added: “Regardless of the morality of the majority, the minority has the right to live as citizens in this country and we just want to live quietly.”

Related: Ministries in Indonesia are banning LGBTQ jobseekers as they want “normal ones”

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